Duke agrees to discuss collaboration to tackle climate change
North Carolina faith leaders are seeking to get their energy straight from the sun. More than 150 of them – from a diversity of faith traditions – are calling for Duke Energy to partner with them to help slow climate change by facilitating the installation of solar power systems on houses of worship around the state.
The Faith in Solar effort is endorsed by the North Carolina NAACP, the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity, and 150 individual faith leaders. The alliance is led by Rev. Dr. Rodney S. Sadler, Jr. of Charlotte.
Faith in Solar wrote to Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good on April 26 saying, in part, “In this time of enormous challenges, we feel that this partnership is urgently needed. Earth Care and stewardship are an integral part of our purpose, and climate scientists’ increasingly dire warnings require that we contribute as much as possible, as quickly as possible, to help solve the climate crisis.” Rev. Sadler noted today: “God has given us an ample supply of energy from the sun. Shouldn’t houses of faith take the lead in using it?”
The alliance asked for a meeting to discuss ideas it has developed for a new program that would help faith organizations overcome obstacles to going solar, such as the upfront cost. The faith leaders and their partner, Durham climate justice nonprofit NC WARN, believe this can be the beginning of a new, cooperative relationship with Duke Energy to increase access to renewable energy in the state.
In response to the letter, a Duke Energy senior executive has agreed to a meeting with the group, and a date is currently being negotiated.
The Faith in Solar proposal would allow faith organizations to start using solar power for no money down, save them money, and also provide financial and environmental benefits to Duke Energy, Duke’s other customers, and the public at large.
Rev. Dr. Nancy Ellett Allison of Holy Covenant United Church of Christ in Charlotte explains: “We worked hard to develop a win-win model and we look forward to sharing our proposal with Duke Energy leadership.”
In addition to significant public goodwill and profits, Duke Energy would benefit from the free real estate for energy production, the addition of solar energy to the grid at times of peak demand, and the location of distributed power generation very close to where it will be consumed.
Another alliance member is Rabbi Jen Feldman of Kehillah Synagogue in Chapel Hill, which put solar panels on its roof in 2015. “We were fortunate to be able to install solar,” says Feldman. “We are happy to be doing our part to promote a clean energy future. But we realize not everyone has this opportunity now, and we would like to see all North Carolina houses of worship have the option to install solar, making a contribution to the climate solution and saving money to help fund the other important work they do.”
Rev. Sadler explained that the program sought by the faith leaders would create jobs and help to revitalize the state’s once-booming rooftop solar industry. Sadler added: “A 2014 Harvard study listed Charlotte last in social mobility among the 50 largest US cities. We could help address this problem by including a job training program as part of our partnership with Duke Energy. Promoting solar would help to restore the social fabric in Charlotte and beyond. It would provide a mode of social uplift and bring people to the table who have been left on the economic margins, giving them the opportunity to earn a living wage.”
The Faith in Solar alliance continues to seek additional endorsements of its initiative from North Carolina faith leaders.
Faith in Solar letter to Lynn Good with list of signers
If you are a North Carolina faith leader (lay or clergy) you can endorse this effort here